DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed Tuesday the killing of a ranking leader of Abu Sayyaf in a military operation Basilan.
Gazmin said Furuji Indama, who is second in command to Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilin Hapilon, was among the 25 bandits who were killed in the five days military operations in the island province.
Hapilon is one of the group's most senior leaders who has a bounty of $5 million from the US government in connection with the kidnapping of three American nationals in 2001.
"Napakalaking importansya nun dahil hihina 'yung threat natin pagkanabulabog natin at nakuha natin itong head," he said.
The operations, which started on Sunday, was part of the military's efforts to arrest the bandits responsible for the attack on the Army's 44th Infantry Division in Tipo-Tipo town that caused the death of 18 soldiers and injury to dozens others.
Among bandits deaths was a Moroccan national Mohammad Khattab, a bomb-making expert, who was trying to infiltrate several outlaw groups in the sought and established links with international terrorist groups.
However, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is yet to confirm if the bodies of Indama and Khattab were recovered by the military. (Sunnex)